Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art Pepper

Art Pepper is one of those guys you can count on, if you are holding one of his recordings in one of the few remaining jazz stores and not, say, leaving something valuable where he could get at it.  Pepper is a study in genius, psychological dysfunction, and heroin.  It may be one of the most insidious things about the fine white powder that it didn't stop someone like Pepper from producing exquisite music. 

I went back this evening to his Village Vanguard recordings.  It is a fine collection if you want to get to know Art Pepper.  There is a lot of his voice introducing the sets.  If you have ever known someone who is always on the edge, psychologically, you will recognize the tone when he speaks.  He lets the audience know that they are recording a classic. 

Anyway, Pepper produced a lot of essential bop when he wasn't in the slammer or too high to play.  Even when he was too high to play, he could still play.   I am putting some Pepper on my L365 station.  'Caravan' can be found on his Complete Village Vanguard Sessions, disc 2.  Here is the lineup:

I am also including 'Anthropology', which opens with a very special dialogue between Pepper and Mraz on bass.  This is an essential live jazz recording.  There are nine discs in the box set, covering several sets over three days.  I would also note the presence of Elvin Jones, who I have been pushing lately on my L365 station.  This Pepper box is a great example of his work as a sideman.  

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